Army pares down its data centers

Memo to push effort forward to be signed off in August

The Army's move to consolidate e-mail and application servers by the end of fiscal 2007 could, by some estimates, save it more than $200 million.

But regardless of potential savings, officials expect to improve security and administration by consolidating more than 200 processing centers to no more than seven.

Lt. Gen. Steven W. Boutelle, Army CIO, said earlier this month that a draft memorandum working its way up to Army secretary Francis Harvey will push the consolidation forward, with an expected completion date of Sept. 30, 2007. The memo should be finalized in August, he said.

The consolidation is 'critical to the Army's business transformation,' said Harvey, who along with Boutelle spoke at the Army IT Day in McLean, Va., sponsored by the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association of Northern Virginia.

The Army so far has set up two consolidated processing centers at Defense Information Systems Agency megacenters in Oklahoma City and Columbus, Ohio.

Army processing centers in Europe have already been consolidated, Boutelle said.

The objective of the consolidation, according to Harvey, is 'to reduce cost and cycle time and to improve output.'

'Productivity will be improved as a result,' he added. 'If you take steps out of a process you become more productive. This initiative is a classic cost reduction program, but it is also focused on producing fewer errors and improving the quality of output.'

'We will go from hundreds of firewalls to between seven and 10,' he said. 'These are labor-intensive to keep up. When these servers are co-located, we will see efficiencies and we will also save on maintenance and sustainment at an enterprise level.'

Budgetary constraints also play into the consolidation strategy. The Army chief of staff 'went on record in Congress last week saying we need $17 billion more to pay for the war and to pay our bills,' Boutelle said. 'We have embarked on a strategy of cost avoidance in anticipation of the bottom dropping out of the budget.'

But Harvey noted that the Army's business transformation program 'is fully funded.'

The location of future consolidated processing centers will be determined by their cost effectiveness, Boutelle said. 'If DISA can provide cost-effective service, we will be glad to continue with them, but we are not fixed on DISA.'

As for base commanders' attitudes toward the move, 'they are saying, 'Take my equipment and I'll pay to move it,' ' said Boutelle. 'They don't want to be saddled with it anymore.'

About the Author

Peter Buxbaum is a special contributor to Defense Systems.

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